ROCK HILL, S.C. - A stout defensive performance boosted South Carolina (6-2) to a decisive three-set sweep of VCU (3-6) on Friday afternoon, in the opening game of the Winthrop Invitational. The Gamecocks almost doubled up the Rams in kills (42-23) and held the opposition to just a .021 hitting percentage. Riley Whitesides led the team in kills, with 14, followed close behind by a career day for Oby Anadi, who added 12 kills on a .556 hitting percentage and led the defense with five blocks.
1st SET: Anadi had a pair of kills in an early 6-1 run that broke the first set open for South Carolina. Leading 5-4, Anadi helped to turn it in to an 11-5 advantage and VCU would get no closer than four points the rest of the way. The junior blocker also had a hand in all three of the team's blocks for the set, combining with six digs from libero Morgan Carter to lead a defensive effort that held the Rams to just nine kills and an .034 hitting percentage.
2nd SET: Unforced errors put the Gamecocks behind to start the second set, but a strong finish helped turn a 15-12 deficit into a 25-17 win. The offense spurred on the comeback, recording seven of its 13 kills in the set during that final 13-2 run, with Whitesides leading the attack with five kills on 11 swings. The back line of the defense again would be sound, with Carter adding seven more digs and keeping VCU to just 11 kills on 41 total attacks.
3rd SET: South Carolina dominated from start to finish in the final set, starting off on a 6-0 run and leading wire-to-wire in a 25-11 score for the sweep. Hanna Bissler opened the set with a pair of aces in that 6-0 run, which also included a pair of big blocks from Anadi and freshman Campbell Paris. The Gamecock offense had their best set, hitting .323 with 15 kills, but it was again the defense that impressed the most. VCU finished with just three kills total, hitting in the negatives at -.042, and needed a late error by Carolina to avoid being the first Gamecock opponent in seven years to score 10 points or less in a set.
QUOTABLE: TOM MENDOZA
On junior Oby Anadi's performance against VCU
"Oby came in as a great blocker and was impactful as a blocker right away. She's learned over her three years how to score at this level and how to be more impactful and be more efficient as an attacker. Oby, every game, we've seen a higher percentage of the swings that are aggressive and in areas that are going to score points and then she's mixing up the off-speed as well. I think today was a great step forward with her we'll show her the video where it's working, but we're seeing it more often, which is really exciting. We can use it (her offense) as a team and it's something that she really wants - to be great offensively. I'm happy for her and proud of the work that she's put in."
The Gamecocks return to Winthrop Coliseum Saturday for the final matchup of the weekend, facing the host Eagles at 6 p.m. The game will be carried on ESPN+.